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The Divorce Process: What’s the First Thing I Should Do?

When someone is considering a divorce in Raleigh, they often ask: What’s the first thing I should do?

While the first steps in the divorce process can depend on your situation, here are several things to do once you’ve decided divorce is the right path.

Steps To Get a Divorce

  1. Move out. In North Carolina, for example, you must be separated for a year before you can file for divorce. Make note of your move-out date and keep any related paperwork, such as a lease. While many of these steps can be done in any order, this one is often first because it’s necessary to get the divorce process started.
  2. Close joint accounts. You’ll want to do this early on, especially if you and your spouse are not splitting on good terms. Angry spouses can affect each other’s credit score, and it’s safest to have your own account.
  3. Research. Make sure you know what divorce means in your state. Attend a divorce workshop like ours or ask friends who have gotten divorced about the process.
  4. Hire a good team. Of course an attorney is one of your first stops. But you also might consider working with a therapist for yourself or your children. Some people try to rely on their attorney for therapeutic help, but that gets expensive quickly. Many people also find a financial advisor helpful during this time.
  5. Organize. You’ll need to organize your documents, such as bank statements, mortgage statements, insurance information, the house deed, and more. Make copies of everything and keep them safe. You might want to open a post office box where you can receive private mail. Take a written and photographic inventory of your valuables.
  6. Create a budget. Once you have moved out, you are likely living on a smaller income. It may be tough to get your spouse to help out with expenses and bills, so be prepared with an idea of what you can afford.
  7. Consider custody. If you can amicably speak with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, try to form a parenting agreement on your own. Keep track of how much time each of you spends with your children.

Whether you’re partially through these steps or not even sure you want a divorce, you can learn more by reaching out to us to schedule a consultation, or at the Second Saturday divorce workshop.


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